Honey, We Forgot My Race Gear! By Leanne Richardson

TORONTO July 17th 2014. Leanne Richardson officially started running after participating in Ottawa’s Weekend To End Breast Cancer 60K Walk. Since then she has completed several 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons and her first marathon at last year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. She recognizes that setting goals, signing up for races and sharing her journey with others is the best way for her to stay focussed and be accountable to achieve her goals. Leanne experienced every runner’s worst nightmare when she realized after travelling to Toronto on the eve of her first marathon, that she had forgotten all of her running gear back in Ottawa. That didn’t stop her—she pushed through and completed the marathon in all new gear!  Leanne hopes to inspire and encourage other runners to train hard, trust their training and enjoy the journey along the way! Connect with Leanne on Twitter @RLeanne and on her blog. 

Honey, We Forgot My Race Gear! By Leanne Richardson. 

Leanne 1My first marathon was last October at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2013. I was traveling from Ottawa, the race was in October and it was hard to know what the weather would be for race day, so I over-packed just in case.

I packed: 2 sports bras, race approved undies, 2 capris, 2 t-shirts, tank, shorts, long sleeve shirts, 2 socks, vest, light jacket, arm sleeves, calf sleeves, shoes/orthotics, hydration pack filled with all my nutrition, waist pack (in case we couldn’t have hydration packs), body glide, hat/sunglasses, Garmin watch, and stapler to attach my pace wristband so I wouldn’t have to ask the hotel front desk. 

I also packed a “shower bag” for after the race for convenience, as I didn’t know where I’d be freshening up. It included: baby wipes, deodorant, pants, socks, long shirts, and extra shoes in case mine were wet (I had just started to break them in).

My husband and I have a packing system (we’ve been married 24 years) so we’ve been doing this for a while.  I bring all the stuff to the front door and he loads the van. As this was a family trip I was also packing the cooler for the four of us.

We hit the road a little later than we intended and it rained most of the drive. We decided to go to the expo first, which was very busy. There were buses lined up and it was pouring, so my husband dropped me off at the door to run in and grab my kit. Since we arrived later than I had wanted, and because my family was in the car waiting for me, I did not take time to shop.

We finally made it to our hotel, tired and hungry as we had been on the road for 8 hours. We opened up the back of the van and I asked where my suitcase was. My husband’s heart sank as he realized he didn’t put it in the van. When he told me it wasn’t there, I thought he was joking and asked again. Then I remembered asking my son to go upstairs and grab it, but he already had his shoes on as he was helping to load up, so I told him I’d get it. I then went into the kitchen, grabbed the cooler and a few other things. We looked around the front, locked up and left. I intended of course to go get my suitcase after getting the cooler but was distracted and forgot!

So when I realized that in fact the suitcase was sitting at the top of the stairs in our house in OTTAWA, it hit me….I honestly thought I could throw up, or cry…or both. My daughter hugged me and said “Mom, it’ll be okay”, through her own teary eyes. I just stood there, not able to think–honestly in a state of shock. We decided to go to our room and figure out what to do next. The hotel informed us that if we left we probably would not get a parking spot as they were already full. Saturday night….(race weekend too).

So what do we do?

We had just been through a tough year as a family and I had chosen to continue training through some of my darkest days. My journey to race day, was actually a journey my family had supported and in some ways experienced with me as they cheered me on, helped out around the house , held me accountable to what I was eating and encouraged me to get out for my runs.

Not racing didn’t seem like an option. My husband offered to drive home, but I knew that would mean driving most of the night and it was still raining. Plus, it was getting darker and now he was exhausted, so it was not worth the risk. I wouldn’t sleep anyways as I’d be worried. Our only option? The nearest shopping mall – The Eaton Centre. I made a list of what was mandatory if I was going to be able to race.

We walked to the Eaton Centre and I bought new gear. All of it! I honestly believe I was in a form of shock as I shopped – I can look back now and laugh but I was incapable of making decisions. My daughter would hand me stuff and talk with a sales clerk explaining what I needed. Of course it was fall and all the summer stuff had been packed and put away. The predicted temperature for race day was about 13 so capris and a tank were ideal. Waist packs were limited and there was no chance of finding a hydration pack, which I had trained with for all my runs.

I didn’t have my Garmin, and I refused to buy a new one, Leanne 2so trusting my training and how I felt was going to have to be how I ran and got to the finish line. I already had my new shoes and socks packed in my shower bag, but no insoles.

There were two choices I had that day; run or don’t run. I think either would have been appropriate and certainly okay decisions, BUT for me not running didn’t even cross my mind. How I was going to get to the start line was the only thing that mattered. So I ran in all new gear, with nutrition I hadn’t trained with, without knowing what my pace was, with a waist pack on instead of my hydration pack. But I ran. For 42.2K I trusted that I had trained for this–that I was doing what I had set out to do.

It wasn’t easy, and I seriously questioned if my family would be allowed to come on course and carry me the last few kilometers. I pictured myself crawling at one point but somehow my legs just kept moving forward until I crossed the finished line!

During the race, I kept thinking I had nothing to prove. I didn’t need to run a marathon ever again. I think I might have even told my family when they hugged me at the end that I have no desire to run another one. Half way home, 5 hours after the race, I thought to myself, maybe it’s like childbirth, maybe with time you say yes to another. By Monday morning (the day after the race) I already decided to run the Ottawa Marathon!

So believe in yourself, believe in your training, and believe you will accomplish what you set out to do. Even if it doesn’t go according to the plan. You have got this!

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